Norcod breaks ground at new Norwegian cod fry site, plans early harvest
Norwegian cod farmer Norcod has joined forces with fry producer Havlandet Marin Yngel in a 50-50 joint venture dubbed Havlandet Norcod AS to build a new cod fry facility at Florø, Norway.
The facility, co-financed by SpareBank and Sogn & Fjordane, represents a major investment in cod aquaculture and is licenced to produce up to 24 million cod fry per year. The first fish are expected to go into the water in autumn 2022 and represent another step in Norcod’s ambition to produce 25,000 metric tons (MT) of fresh farmed cod per year.
Work started on the project in mid-August, with Norway Minister of Fisheries and Seafood Odd Emil Ingebritsen attending a groundbreaking ceremony at the site.
“The renewed focus on cod farming is tremendous. Given the improvements made in breeding and production methods, cod farming now has a much better starting point for profitable production than in the past,” Ingebritsen said. “Land-based [aquaculture] also has an important contribution to make by providing more stable access to raw materials. This is a great day and a great investment in cod farming. I fully support all those who are making it happen.”
Norcod has been a lifeline for Havlandet, which has been producing cod fry for the past 20 years, but had run out of markets as interest in cod farming declined in Norway. According to Havlandet Managing Director Halvard Hovland, his company had almost abandoned hope that the industry would ever take off.
Now Norcod has come in as the driving force for responsible cod farming on an industrial scale, there is an urgent need for a reliable source of cod fry to meet growing demand. Havlandet is currently spawning its seventh generation of cod, which have benefitted from positive gains made with each new generation, Hovland said.
“This is a key milestone for Havlandet. We’re really happy to be working with Norcod on this first phase of a bigger expansion at Fjord Base and are proud to be supporting them in breathing new life into the business of cod farming. If everything goes to plan, we also want to build a land-based production facility for juveniles and food fish,” Hovland said.
According to Norcod's recently released Q2 results, Norcod is preparing for its first commercial harvest of fresh cod from a pilot batch of fish held at partner Namdal Settefisk’s sea site for 18 months, and a main batch grown at a Norcod fish farm for 13 months. However, due to faster-than-expected growth of the fish at the Norcod site, the company is approaching its maximum permitted biomass. Norcode is taking action to stay within the confines of its allocation, Norcod CEO Christian Riber said.
“It is necessary to start the harvesting process earlier than originally planned, affecting the size of the fish that is first harvested, which should be 3.5 to four kilograms. However, over the entire harvest period, the average weight will remain the same, as there will be significantly larger fish towards the end of the cycle. We have robust arrangements in place with buyers in our target markets who are eagerly awaiting our premium fresh farmed cod, which is available all year-round,” Riber said.
Photo courtesy of Norcod